• Kyodo News


A former aide to Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa has sent letters to his lawyers alleging that prosecutors used threatening methods to question him after he was arrested on charges of cooking the books for Ozawa’s political fund management body, sources said Monday.

Lawyers for Tomohiro Ishikawa, now a House of Representatives lawmaker, submitted the letters as evidence to the pretrial session of judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers for the case at the Tokyo District Court.

The letters allege that written statements signed by Ishikawa were made under threat from the prosecutor and thus “lack credibility,” the sources said.

Ishikawa’s defense team has also applied to the court to summon the prosecutor who was in charge of questioning Ishikawa, as a witness at the trial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 7, they said.

According to the sources, Ishikawa wrote in the letters that the prosecutor warned him bail would be denied if he didn’t confess to the allegations.

Ishikawa sent the letters to his lawyers following his arrest in January last year, the sources said.

He was charged with breaking the political funds control law.

Ishikawa, along with two other former Ozawa aides, is suspected of failing to make an entry for some ¥400 million allegedly provided by Ozawa to purchase land in Tokyo, in the 2004 report for Rikuzankai, Ozawa’s funds management body.

Ishikawa added in the letters that when he denied conspiring with Ozawa, the prosecutor dismissed his claims by saying, “You could not have decided by yourself.”

“Even though I explained that a number of times, he would not listen to me,” Ishikawa wrote.

Ishikawa has also submitted as separate evidence a document based on a recording he made during voluntary questioning in May, following a decision by an independent judicial panel in April that Ozawa should be indicted over the funds scandal, according to the sources.

According to the recording Ishikawa secretly made using an IC recorder, the prosecutor tried to force him to remain consistent in his statements, saying that if he made statements different from those he made at the time of his arrest “it would give the panel an unfavorable impression (of Ishikawa) and that it would also work negatively for Mr. Ozawa.”

The prosecutors have been claiming that Ishikawa basically admitted to the charges at the time of his arrest but later recanted.

The citizens panel reached the decision on Ozawa in April by taking into account Ishikawa’s statement, put on record by the prosecutors during interrogation after his arrest, as “direct evidence” that strongly indicates the existence of a conspiracy between Ozawa and Ishikawa.

The latest suggestion that a prosecutor used threats during questioning is expected to be discussed at an advisory panel to the justice minister.

The panel was recently set up with aim of strengthening reform of public prosecutors’ offices after three former senior Osaka prosecutors were indicted for tampering with data on a floppy disk confiscated during the course of one of their investigations last October.

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